The best thing to come out of the Enron debacle was the swift and unrelenting vilification of Andersen. Enron may have been run by a pack of theiving, lying bastards, but that didn't come as a surprise to anyone — they were in the energy-trading business, not the trustworthiness business. But Andersen, ah, they were in the trustworthiness business. Their entire value was as a disinterested, brutally honest third-party auditor. It's become clear — to my surprise — that Andersen can't ever rehabilitate their reputation. They have been sentenced to death by the marketplace for betraying its trust.
Another trustworthiness company, Verisign, deserves the same swift retribution. Verisign is a certifier of certificates, a manager of critical Internet infrastructure, and a pack of bumbling, cheating incompetents. Their Network Solutions division — whose practices Verisign endorses with liberal sprinklings of logos and checkmarks — is notorious for failing to do its duty to the Internet in maintaining the integrity of the Domain Name system that is in its charge.
NetSol's only significant One of Verisign's most signficant assets is its ICANN charter to run big hunks of DNS. It is this asset that Verisign purchased when it acquired NetSol. Now, even ICANN recognizes that NetSol can't be trusted to manage the .ORG top-level domain. Verisign gave up its charter to run .ORG recently, and with any luck a little push from the Distributed Republic of Blogistan will cost it the rest of its charter, putting it to death for the crime of betraying our trust again and again (and again and again).
Here's a rallying point: A domain, hoopla.com, has been stolen with NetSol's complicity. A guy in Berlin faxed in a regstration for the domain (which was not set to expire until June) and NetSol handed it over to him. Instead of rectifying their error, they have told the owner to go to hell, negotiate to buy the domain from its new "owner," or just get lost.
Let's put NetSol to death. We're the Alpha Geeks of our social circles. When people ask us about registering domains, let's be sure to tell them to register anywhere except NetSol, because they will sell your domain to someone else and do nothing about it. When we attend conferences where NetSol or Verisign execs are speaking, let's hijack the Q&A and hound them about why we should trust them when they so cavalierly robbed hoopla.com's owner of her property. If NetSol resolves this issue (ha!), then ask pointed questions about why it took such a massive putsch to get them to do the right goddamned thing. If you're at an ICANN meeting, raise hoopla.com and your own horror stories and demand that NetSol be stripped of its charter. Tell your company to certify with companies other than Verisign. Don't use Verisign for credit-card processing.
Let's come up with some good insulting memes for describing Verisign and its business-units: "Arthur Verisign," "Enron Solutions," "Not Very-Sign," "Network Problems," etc. Let's put them to death. Let's spam their mailroom with FuckedCompany t-shirts. Let's go to their bankruptcy auction and buy their laptops and publish their embarassing emails on our blogs. Let's never put our trust in Verisign again.
(Thanks for Paul Hoffman for setting me straight about Verisign and NetSol's relationship to one another)